Do you have questions about when goats start growing horns? You’re not alone! Many people are curious about this topic.
Luckily, we have a goat expert on hand to answer all of your questions. Keep reading to learn more about when goats start developing their horns and what factors influence the process.
A passionate owner and breeder of Boer Goats, Charlotte is ensconced in daily goat farm life at Himmon Boer Goats in the UK. A member of the British Boer Goat Society, she spends her spare time also involved with goats. You could say, and she would admit, she is somewhat obsessed!
Baby Goat Horns
One of the most majestic features of many goats is an impressive set of horns which, in the biggest cases can take many years to develop, so the earlier they start to grow the better right?
Goat breeds that develop horns will start growing as soon as they are born and within three weeks the horn tissue will attach to the skull so that the small bud of the horn can be felt by an expert who knows where to look and shortly after seen.
Even after a few short weeks, horn buds will become very apparent and obvious on baby goats as the horns continue to grow as they mature.
Knowing your goats are growing horns and understanding the developmental stages are vital to help ensure you’re looking after your beloved goats in the right way.
So, whether you’re looking to disbud your goats and need to know when the goat horns start to grow or if you’re simply curious, we hope today’s guide may help.
What Factors Influence When Goats Start to Grow Horns?
There are three main factors that influence when goat horns start to grow
The first and most obvious reason is age. Goats are not born with horns – it’s pretty easy to understand why this is the case if you’ve ever felt how sharp a young baby goat’s horns can be!
With this in mind, one of the earliest factors influencing when goats start to grow horns is age. In fact, if you run your finger over the area where the horns will one day sit on a goat kid’s head at a few weeks old, you may even feel the tiniest bit of horn growth already.
As with any immature mammal development, as the days and weeks pass, the kid goat buds will appear and dependent on the breed and the full potential size of the expected horns, growth will be steady through to full maturity.
While age plays a significant role when goats start to grow horns, size can massively impact this too.
In fact, if you had two goat kids, but one was twice as large as the other, the larger kid would often have more noticeable horn growth before the smaller kid.
However, this doesn’t always ring true and will also depend on other factors; for example the particular breed.
A large pygmy buck could easily have almost comparable horns to a mature larger-breed buck despite not having the same full maturity stature and weight of the larger breed.
While most goats will begin to develop horns at a few weeks old, some breeds are more well-endowed in the headgear apartment than others. As such, the time that you notice the early horn growth may differ based on breed – and even among individual animals in a breed.
Therefore you may have two goats, say a pygmy and a Boer and notice that at exactly the same age, one has significantly larger horns than the other
How do Goat Horns Develop Over Time?
Over time, goat horns can go through significant changes. As a very young kid, horn growth will be minimal initially and may more closely resemble a bud than an actual horn.
As the kid grows, you may then begin to notice ridges and rings on the horns, with areas of new, rapid growth often being incredibly easy to identify at the base of the head. Most of the horn will be fully grown by the age of three (roughly around when a goat is fully mature and stops growing).
What is the Average Lifespan of a Goat’s Horns
Many people assume that goats must lose their horns, similarly to how stags lose their antlers.
However, this is not true, and a goat’s horns will usually have the same lifespan as the goat itself. However, older animals may have looser or weaker horns, and butting with these may put them at risk.
It is not unknown for goats to break their horns, and require veterinary attention.
Can Goats Lose Their Horns?
Goats can absolutely lose their horns in a variety of circumstances – something I know well after one of our buck kids damaged his horn and ended up having to have it surgically removed!
However, goats do not lose their horns naturally, so a goat without horns will likely have either undergone a disbudding or dehorning procedure to remove them or otherwise may have lost the horn(s) in an accident. Only a very small handful of goats never grow horns, and these are called polled goats.
Are There Any Health Benefits to Goat Horns
There are several potential health benefits from horns for goats. For one thing, in hot climates, the blood supply in the horns is believed to help the goat regulate its temperature. In addition, it’s worth considering that many goats will often assess challengers based on displays such as horn size; therefore, horns may also play a role in dissuading fights for dominance.
However, goat horns can also get injured due to pressure, fighting, and the like. With this thought in mind, it’s important to be careful when handling a goat by its horns.
Goat horns are actually surprisingly complex, even if it often seems like they’re relatively simple. With this thought in mind, we have outlined some of the key things you need to know about when do goats start to grow horns.
Hopefully, you’ll now know a little more about goat horns and what they mean; after all, though many of us overlook goat horn growth, it’s a massively impressive example of a goat’s unique characteristics and adaptations to different climates accordingly.